After another fitful sleep, I awoke bleary-eyed and groggy-faced to yet another beautiful day, not a rainy day, like was predicted, cuz that would have totally allowed me to be in a foul mood.
However, lack of sleep, coffee and a generally bad attitude made me give the day the finger, anyway.
However, it was the last day for all of us.
The counsellors told everyone there’d be something special today. I feared that they meant we’d skin a beaver or fight a bear or have to eat worms. The boys, however, were still pumped over last night’s triumphant skit, and hell, they’d made fire, shot arrows, navigated in the woods and canoed halfway around the world, so they had the swagger of kids who could do anything.
It was really amazing to see. It wasn’t just the boys in my cabin. All the kids seemed to have a swagger, like they had thrown the One Ring into Mt Doom. They all looked forward to whatever was thrown at them today.
The surprise turned out to be a hunt.
For 3 hours, we’d run around in the forest and hunt each other.
Perfect! The Hunger Games at last! And I could shoot a bow better than all of them. The odds were definitely in my favour.
But, no, sadly, it wasn’t quite that simple.
½ the class was divided up into prey, let’s call them squirrels. They wore an arm band with little blue flags. Their job was to eat stuff in the forest. Not literally, which would have been hilarious and most likely deadly, but they had to find more metal plates with food items on it.
Next were the lynxes. They could eat the squirrels. Then came the big cats. Cougars. They could both the lynxes and the squirrels. At the top of the food chain, was man. He could kill anything he saw.
For the hunters, they had to actually tag their prey, taking a flag from them. For man, all he had to point his gun and say bang, you’re dead. There were also disasters that affect the forest. Fires, floods, a crazy moose… you know, the usual stuff.
It was all one big game of tag, really. The kids playing either prey or hunters, the chaperons playing disasters. Was their a message there? I dunno.
I managed to snag the best job. Man the Hunter. I was the only one who didn’t have to run around and tag people. I think the camp counsellors looked at me and thought, damn, if we get that bugger running around too much, he’ll have a heart attack and die. Better give him a gun. Or maybe I was the most red-necked-looking one.
Well, being a hunter of all things chased that bad mood away. Nothing like shooting some kids in the woods to lighten the day up a bit.
Unfortunately, these kids were good at playing tag. Really, really good. I had to run them down even to shoot them and some of them were just plain sneaky, using slippery rocks and mossy trees to escape the expert marksman. A few even banded together to hunt as a pack – though I’m pretty sure I saw some squirrels working with lynxes so I’m not quite sure what was going on. Not that it mattered, I shot them all.
There was also one chaperon who played Greenpeace and if an animal made it to them, they were safe for a while. But being me, I just hung out and shot them as soon as they left Greenpeace. Apparently I couldn’t shoot Greenpeace – though I did try. A lot.
Sweaty, exhausted and constantly on the lookout for the mad moose who could actually kill me, I raced around like I was… well, let’s face it, like I was 50. Hey, I did my best, but running up a hill and down a dozen times chasing cougars, well that just takes it out of you.
The Oldest got to play one of the cougars. The teachers had made it so the, ah, ‘more active’ kids were the prey and the quieter ones were the hunters. An interesting social experiment if you ask me.
At one point, I managed to catch the speedy kid from the navigation exercise, but he had fallen on the ground and was holding his ankle. I didn’t have the heart to shoot him so he stumbled off into the forest just far enough so I couldn’t shoot him, then stopped faking the injury and ran away.
There was a lesson to be learned there, I think.
We all came back to count our trophies (or kills or foodie plates collected). Once again, victory went to the girls, two of whom seemed to have eaten an entire continent worth of squirrels. (Oddly enough, I hadn’t managed to kill either one, heck, I hadn’t even seen them.) Good for them. Future Katnissesses there.
However, it’s too bad the squirrels weren’t allowed to fight back. That might have made things really interesting.
But everyone had a good time, even The Oldest who was not as keen on killing everything as I was.
Then we had lunch, packed up, stuffed 300 bags into a clean horse trailer, and walked back down to the buses. Not having to carry our packs and sleeping bags in garbage bags certainly made everyone happy.
I have to tell you, though, some of those girls packed some serious bags. They were the size of small elephants and weighed as about as much.
On the way down, however, I actually yelled at a kid. The first time I actually yelled. He’d thrown a foot-long piece of an iron beam at his friend. It was a dead stupid thing to do and came close to clocking the other kid in the head. I may have used the ‘F’ word. In fact, I know I did. There was probably a better way to handle it, but it just came out.
But other than that, I had survived the ordeal.
The Oldest, though, had not only survived, but had triumphed with an amazing skit that I will probably talk about until the day I die. He marched far ahead of me, joking with his friends, in need of no adult support at all. He’d been to camp, he’d overcome his fears and he’d kicked ass.
I was super proud of him.
Me, well, no one died on my watch. That was the bar I had set for success. It was hit and miss there for a moment that I wouldn’t lose one in the woods forever, but everyone made it back alive.
So I count this as a success as well.
However, I’m not sure I’ll do it again.